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RURAL Arson Control


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Inter-Agency Communication

Need Statement:

Improved communication among elements of the arson control system is needed to enhance cooperation.


Fire officers almost without exceptionbelieved that prosecutors failed to pursue cases vigorously enough to obtain convictions and appropriate punishments. Fire officers and firefighters said this dimmed their interest in going the extra mile to detect arson and preserve evidence. It is hard to see how it can be ex- pected for volunteer firefighters to take the extra time and effort to detect arson, preserve the scene, and delay their return to their beds, jobs, or families if the rest of the system does not recognize their efforts, reward them (if by no other way than praise), and reinforce these efforts by feeding back information on:

case status; case disposition.

For example, fire investigators often find it difficult to convince volunteer firefighters that plea bargaining is a necessary part of the criminal justice system. And in many instances, fire investigators disagree with the way a prosecutor handles a case. A prosecutor’s decision to allow reduced charges or sentences may not be understood by firefighters or investigators. This in turn can harm their morale and undermine arson control efforts.


Control Expert


Agree 23

Disagree 0

No Comment 1

Solution Options:

Produce a simple guide that state fire marshals or state fire training systems can use to increase awareness among all concerned parties. Such a guide would outline the workings of the state’s criminal justice system. The guide might explain, for example, what factors play a major role in a prosecutor’s decision to pursue a case, why some cases are declined for prosecution, and why other cases are plea bargained. It might also suggest ways in which local fire organizations could monitor the disposition of arson cases and give appropriate feedback to prosecutors.

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